September 18, 2008 By Andy Opsahl
Bus riders and Metrorail subway passengers in Washington, D.C., could soon have another option for reporting incidents to Metro Transit Police: text messaging. Train passengers often complain of being too intimidated by rowdy teenagers to report juvenile crimes via phone calls. Text messaging could provide a stealthier way to alert police.
Passengers with either BlackBerrys or Verizon cell phones would be the first riders able to text message crime reports. Verizon is the only cell phone provider offering service underground in the nation's capital. BlackBerrys also work underground because they operate on a proprietary network. If the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) pursues the idea, staffers would do a trial run to explore how the process would work.
"It is not at all intended to be the primary means by which people communicate with the police department, but it would be another option. It's something that is already being done at other police agencies across the country," said Lisa Farbstein, WMATA spokeswoman.
Metro Police have no idea yet how they would roll out this project because it's still in the discussion stage, Farbstein said. Whether or not WMATA makes the option available to passengers will depend on the findings of the employees-only pilot program.
Photo Chris Metcalf. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.